Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stealth reading for the Hugos

Yes, I should be writing more reviews of Hugo-nominated works.

I don't feel like doing so, though. I had to take a break after the first batch just to find out what the hell John C Wright was going on about. I've read around the subject enough to get a clearer picture, but I feel like I've chased the equivalent of Cicada 3301 - or maybe Tony the Tiger's coupon clipping scheme - as far as I can.

The latest was learning (via Camestros Felapton, and don't ask me where exactly, as that rabbit hole is a thousand feet deep) that when Tybalt the talking cat in One Bright Star to Guide Them tells the protagonist to strike his (Tybalt the cat's) head from his body, there's an antecedent. And no, it's not Jesus's sacrifice. Even VD who shall not be named assumed it was, but no. It's a reference to folklore. (That passage is on page 57 of Ursula K Le Guin's The Language of the Night in my paperback copy.)

"Our instinct, in other words, is not  blind. The animal does not reason, but it sees. And it acts with certainty; it acts "rightly", appropriately. [...]There is often a queer twist to this in folktales, a kind of final secret. The helpful animal, often a horse or a wolf, says to the hero, "When you have done such-and-so with my help, then you must kill me, cut off my head." And the hero must trust his animal guide so wholly that he is willing to do so. Apparently the meaning of this is that when you have followed the animal instincts far enough then they must be sacrificed, so that the true self, the whole person, may step forth from the body of the animal, reborn."

It's a word-for-word plodding reference to it, in fact, which makes me think even less of John C Wright than before. It's like a box he checked off.

It's also hard reviewing these things as File 770 is scouring the web for content and when they do pick up one of your pieces, hoo boy beware the flood of hits. I will have loved what they were doing in 2025 but right now it's a bit irritating.

In the meantime, I did start other Hugo stories and books. None of them has grabbed me, though. Instead I reached into the To Be Read (TBR) pile and started on Mythago Wood - now there's a good story. Even though I don't like it, I want to finish it. I'll be back to the Hugos later.

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